Kineto Wireless took the wraps off its Smart Comms client application, which it contends will enable operators to better leverage standard Rich Communications Suite (RCS) technology to enhance their current offerings and deliver new chat, VoIP and video services.
The company's app is designed around the concept of telco-OTT, wherein operators launch their own over-the-top services that can be delivered across all IP networks to compete with offerings from third-party OTT service providers.
"We have a pretty strong opinion about how operators should get into this whole telco-OTT space. We feel pretty strongly that they need to have an app as a method to surface their communications service to the end-user rather than relying on a handset provider to do that," Ken Kolderup, Kineto's CMO, told FierceBroadbandWireless.
The GSMA's RCS-based Joyn initiative provides for native support from handset vendors. But in doing so, and in providing a prescribed user experience across mobile networks, Joyn disintermediates individual operators because they are more restricted in branding and innovating their own services. Further, Joyn has been slow to market, which Kolderup said frustrates operators who are ready to move more quickly to offer OTT-type services.
"We're not against Joyn," he said, adding that Joyn has become more of a brand but is not necessarily synonymous with RCS because many carriers intend to launch RCS but will not use Joyn as a brand.
In fact, he added there is no reason why an operator using Joyn-branding for RCS services couldn't use Kineto's app and market its advanced capabilities in the app as Joyn services to its customers.
Kineto's Smart Comms app supports both owned and hosted RCS network deployment models. Kolderup said the vendor has about a half dozen operator trials slated to start over the next couple of months.
Operators can use the app to create a user interface they can brand with a fresh look for not only their existing telephony and SMS/MMS offerings but also new IP-based services such as one-to-one and group chat, IP voice and video calling, image and location sharing. Other features include invite to call, social snapshot and location share. The app's users can view all their interactions with friends and colleagues via conversational timelines.
The app also extends conversations to tablets and PCs. "If you want to provide a common user experience that you can evolve, enhance across platforms, there's only one way to do that, and that's with an app," said Kolderup.
The Smart Comms app also enables operators to explore new ways to derive revenue from their services by supporting freemium pricing models and advertisement insertion, said Kolderup.
"With some of these new IP capabilities, maybe an operator makes the point-to-point variance free, but if the customer wants group capabilities that's an in-app purchase," he said. "With this app, operators have a vehicle to explore those alternative business models."
NewPace said it has certified Kineto's Smart Comms application for use with its rcsConnect hosted infrastructure.
Operators are scrambling to find ways to compete with OTT providers such as Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Skype or WhatsApp, which are taking away some voice and SMS revenue streams. Many in the mobile industry have pointed to RCS as the operators' answer for competing head-to-head against OTT players, but there are many who question whether operators can meet the challenge.
"Even though technologies like RCS provide a solid foundation, crafting a compelling user interface, building a brand around existing communications services and incorporating differentiating communications features are challenges that most operators simply haven't had to grapple with in the past," said Peter Jarich, vice president of consumer and infrastructure research at Current Analysis.
According to Jeremy Green, a principal analyst in Ovum's telco strategy practice. "In 2020, we expect that OTT VoIP will have cost the global telecoms industry $479 billion in lost revenues."
Juniper Research predicts there will be more than 1 billion users of OTT mobile VoIP services by 2017, while ARCchart forecasts that OTT services will account for 8 percent of all voice traffic carried over mobile networks by 2016.
- see this Kineto release
Analyst: SMS profits unsustainable as IP messaging gains ground
AT&T prepares to battle OTT players with call management API
Report: Mobile VoIP users to reach 1 billion by 2017
Jibe snags $8.3M to expand its cloud-based RCS platform
Telefónica, Orange and Vodafone challenge OTT services with Spanish Joyn launch
Report: OTT services like Skype, WhatsApp are a threat to operator revenues